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4357 words - 18 pages

New studies of the brain show that leaders can improve group performance by understanding the biology of empathy. by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis

and the Biology of

Social Intelligence
IN 1998, ONE OF US, DANIEL GOLEMAN, published in these pages his first article on emotional intelligence and leadership. The response to “What Makes a Leader?” was enthusiastic. People throughout and beyond the business community started talking about the vital role that empathy and self-knowledge play in effective leadership. The concept of emotional intelligence continues to occupy a prominent space in the leadership literature and in everyday coaching practices. But in the past five years, ...view middle of the document...

We believe that great leaders are those how to translate newly acquired knowledge about mirror neuwhose behavior powerfully leverages the system of brain inrons, spindle cells, and oscillators into practical, socially intelterconnectedness. We place them on the opposite end of the ligent behaviors that can reinforce the neural links between neural continuum from people with serious social disorders, you and your followers. such as autism or Asperger’s syndrome, that are characterized by underdevelopment in the areas of the brain associated with social interactions. If we are correct, it follows that a Followers Mirror Their Leaders – Literally potent way of becoming a better leader is to find authentic Perhaps the most stunning recent discovery in behavioral neucontexts in which to learn the kinds of social behavior that roscience is the identification of mirror neurons in widely disreinforce the brain’s social circuitry. Leading effectively is, in persed areas of the brain. Italian neuroscientists found them other words, less about mastering by accident while monitoring a particusituations – or even mastering solar cell in a monkey’s brain that fired only cial skill sets – than about developwhen the monkey raised its arm. One day ing a genuine interest in and talent a lab assistant lifted an ice cream cone for fostering positive feelings in the to his own mouth and triggered a reacpeople whose cooperation and suption in the monkey’s cell. It was the first port you need. evidence that the brain is peppered with The notion that effective leaderneurons that mimic, or mirror, what ship is about having powerful social another being does. This previously uncircuits in the brain has prompted known class of brain cells operates as us to extend our concept of emoneural Wi-Fi, allowing us to navigate our People often ask whether gender tional intelligence, which we had social world. When we consciously or undifferences factor into the social intelgrounded in theories of individual consciously detect someone else’s emoligence skills needed for outstanding psychology. A more relationshiptions through their actions, our mirror leadership. The answer is yes and no. based construct for assessing leadneurons reproduce those emotions. ColIt’s true that women tend, on average, ership is social intelligence, which lectively, these neurons create an instant to be better than men at immediately we define as a set of interpersonal sense of shared experience. sensing other people’s emotions, competencies built on specific neuMirror neurons have particular imporwhereas men tend to have more ral circuits (and related endocrine tance in organizations, because leaders’ social confidence, at least in work setsystems) that inspire others to be emotions and actions prompt followers tings. However, gender differences effective. to mirror those feelings and deeds. The in social intelligence that are dramatic The idea that leaders need social effects of activating neural circuitry in...

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